Marquette looks to explore senior housing potential

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The city of Marquette wants to investigate the potential for senior housing in the community. 

The council, at its Nov. 12 meeting, considered a proposal from Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) to create a concept plan for the city’s “Thornton Property,” an area near Gencor that was purchased several years ago with the intent of creating housing for area seniors.

“We’ve owned the Thornton Property for years and we’ve always talked about it,” said mayor Steve Weipert, “but that’s all we’ve done, is talked.” Now, he stressed, it’s time to take action. “UERPC is willing to come up with a conceptual plan that we can turn over to investors and builders. We’ll never get investors unless there’s some kind of plan in place on what’s going to work and what isn’t.”

Councilwoman Eleanor Soulli feels the spot isn’t conducive to senior housing. She’d rather see it downtown, closer to other amenities.

“Then people can walk,” she said.

At the time the property was purchased, councilman John Ries said other members were in agreement that it was a good location.

“I feel it’s still close enough to downtown,” he noted. “And it has good southern exposure.”

There’s no reason, though, he said, that the city can’t have UERPC explore the feasibility of senior housing closer to downtown too.

“Look at any site in town, any elderly housing period,” he added.

“It’s worth having a look at, then we can finally say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” agreed councilman Ryan Young. “Otherwise, two years down the road, we’ll be having the same discussion.”

UERPC’s proposal for the Thornton Property was slated to cost roughly $2,200. 

The council members decided to hold off on moving forward until they learned if the cost would increase with UERPC exploring additional sites.

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